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West Cleveland Baptist Church

"Followers of Christ leading others to know and follow Christ."

Catching Missions

2016 marked the 2nd year that West Cleveland Baptist Church has partnered with Pillar Church of Woodlawn in Alexandria, VA. When we visit Pillar, we try to write them a blank check as far as what we are willing to do. Whatever and wherever you need us, that is what we want to do. I can’t speak first-hand about everyone’s experience, but I can share a few tidbits of mine. If you’d like to hear other perspectives, make sure to visit SERMONS ONLINE! and listen to the message from July 10.

First of all, I enjoy going to Pillar because I have a brother there. The lead pastor is Brian Collison. We don’t share a last name and we don’t look alike, but we are both covered by the blood of Jesus Christ, we both wear an Army uniform proudly, and we are both alumni from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. It is a breath of fresh air to see and fellowship with a like-minded friend in the ministry. Praying for one another, venting to one another, and just hanging out is great for me. The Bible teaches us in Proverbs 27:17 that “iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” It sharpens me to be there. You should also find brothers and sisters that can sharpen you – no matter where you are.

Secondly, I love attending Sunday morning service at Pillar. In the two years we have been there, we have taken part in 2 Sunday morning services. And yet, I have never heard a sermon there! How in the world does that happen? Both years, one of my favorite parts of the week has been taking my leave from the service in order to go back to a room dedicated to prayer. During the preaching of the word, a very small group of people go to do battle in prayer. I looked at my phone as we began this year and noted the time. We spent 65 minutes in prayer! You might think that is excessive or unnecessary, but prayer changes things. While the word is going forth from the pulpit, we were praying for the preacher and the hearers. After all, the Bible teaches that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). We should pray for our preachers to communicate the word of God effectively and for the hearers to be focused and attentive to what is being said.

Lastly, we did something a little different this year. We took one day to assist Waterfront Church of D.C.  The day was miserably HOT! It was in the upper-90s with a high level of humidity. We were not indoors in an air-conditioned building, we were outdoors walking around attaching door-hangers to the front doors of several neighborhoods. During that time, we had one member get stung by an unidentified insect, one member have sinus issues, and one member get a severe headache. The rest of the team was hot and a bit cranky. I fully expected to hear mumbles and grumbles from the team – but they weren’t really there. Most of our members had a major sense of accomplishment, and they were proud to have been sweating for the Lord. I was blessed to hear their positive attitudes in the midst of bad circumstances. Our trust in the Lord is never supposed to depend on circumstances. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your path” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Many in the team even mentioned this rough day as one of their most memorable!

I could go on and on telling you about every detail of the trip – but the old adage is still true – Missions is caught more than taught. I can tell you what it means to be on mission, but until you catch the fever, you will be hard-pressed to truly understand. I want to encourage each and every one of you to watch our mission video, listen to our testimonies, read this short blog, and even pepper us with whatever questions you may have… but at the end of the day, I hope that you are encouraged to step out in faith and step forward for Christ to serve on the mission field. There are several opportunities to take that first step in our own community very soon. Plug in and catch the mission fever!

God bless,

Pastor Matt

 

 

Holy, Holy, Holy

“Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness!

Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud crashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!” – Psalm 150

It was a Thursday night. I was sitting at the church in my office with three other men as we have become accustomed to. It is a time of discipleship – intensely seeking God in His word and allowing iron to sharpen iron (Prov. 27:17). As I have recently taken up guitar with my son Noah for lessons, I have pushed myself to lead a song or two in our Thursday night meetings. Playing in front of 3 makes me nervous! We sing through Matt Maher’s “Lord, I Need You” and follow it up with the old hymn “Holy Holy Holy”. It went well enough – I didn’t miss too many chords and we worshiped together in a special way… just the 4 of us – alone in the church on a Thursday night. And then it happened…

Brother Don Nichols, our Choir Director, spoke up to say, “Hey men, we should do this together on Father’s Day Sunday.” Tony Richmond, our chairman of the deacons, and I exchanged a frightened glance. Cliff Donachy, brother in Christ and fellow minister, was stoic. Tony said, “I’m out”, and I knew in my heart I wasn’t far behind. Don challenged me to consider it, and I agreed to pray over night. If playing before 3 is tough – imagine 60 or 70!

But when it comes down to it – I can’t play for 3, or 70, or 700 for that matter. If I am really worshiping, I am only playing for an audience of 1. Sure – as I strapped on my guitar that morning, my hand still shook a little, and my nerves were all over the place, but in my heart I kept telling myself that no matter what sound my guitar made, my heart better be in the right place before a holy God!

Psalm 150 really hits the nail on the head, doesn’t it? Let everything praise the Lord! Give it all you’ve got if you are a child of God – lay it on the line – and praise Him with  your best. God will be glorified, and you will be blessed. We serve an awesome God – let’s act like it!

 

 

The Need for Sacrifice

I have recently been challenged by a memory verse. It’s a verse I have seen many times. It’s a verse I have read many times. It’s a verse I have even preached on! But when I committed it to memory, it seemed to take on a whole new importance. Romans 12:1 states,

“I appeal to you therefore brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (ESV)

The more I think about that verse, the more my need for sacrifice seems to stand out in my mind. I am hard-wired toward selfishness – but Jesus has changed my wiring towards selflessness. Each day, I live in a world where I am pulled in both directions. I want to live for Christ, and yet I am still selfish far too often.

As I have been mulling over this verse, I found myself eye to eye with an older gentleman from our congregation. He was laying in a hospital bed with pneumonia, had not eaten in a week and was undergoing tests to see if he would ever be able to swallow again or have a feeding tube. His physical situation was bleak at best. After spending time with his family, I leaned over Earl McAmis to ask if there was anything in particular that he’d like for me to pray for him. What I got next blew me away!

His physical situation made it hard to understand the words that he was saying. But with great effort, he looked up at me and said, “I want to give God glory with my life. Please pray that while I am here, I can have the strength enough to do that.”

We cling to our life on earth so hard at times. Many in Earl’s situation would have had complaints and “Why me?” sorts of questions. Earl had gotten past any sort of selfish request. His lone request was more about being able to honor God in his weakened state. I was blessed by Earl’s heart that day. His witness and testimony really made Romans 12:1 come alive for me!

As you go throughout your week, you will be tempted to be selfish in many ways. I appeal to you brothers (and sisters), present your bodies as  a living sacrifice!

Pastor Matt

Brand New Site for WordPress

Hello church,

I hope that you will bear with me as I begin trying to learn a new kind of website. We are woefully behind the rest of the world as it pertains to having a website, so we are playing catch-up. Unfortunately for us, I am leading the charge, and I am having to learn all of this as I go. There is great value in putting our information out there so that others can see us and know what we are about. Please pray for my wisdom, patience, understanding, and knowledge as I continue getting us caught up.

God bless,

Pastor Matt Ward

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